A 2014 Hobby Suggestion
Where do you think your clean water will come from?
First come up with some assumptions you or your group can agree upon. That can often be the most difficult part of the whole process. The obvious example is that water supply is a non problem, like we will always have clean water in the USA.
For another example, I assume old house sites where people lived had to have a source of water, as well as a waste water means. Now I assume that often the water was not just from wells or pumps, but from all sources, to include streams, ponds, water catchments, pipes, carrying it, etc.
Second do you want to have perfect plan later or a good plan now? That includes doing the hobby in pieces, like just keeping records of any walks or visits to remote lands you do in the interim. Reading one's notes can be kind of fun later, like even full of surprises one forgets about. Examples can even be trends, like weight loss or gain.
Third this hobby won't work very well in many urban situations.
Fourth, often old wells have been buried or covered up for safety reasons. Even old pumps may have disappeared. And even old house-site above ground dumps may not exist for various reasons. And last, most old sites will not have any reliable records anyone will trust.
That's why it is a "hobby" of sorts.
Then go out and walk, explore, and visit the land you hope to find old home sites on in this example. Ahead of time have ready some assortment of old maps (maybe) and present ways to keep notes, make diagrams, etc. This part of the hobby will probably take months. And often the "notes" will be as much about failures and disappointments as well as successes. Pilots often call their notes logbooks, many others even call them diaries, runners call them something else. Speaking for myself, it is amazing how many details escape me 6 months later, for example. I personally know that even old burial sites can disappear over time.
And then there are mysteries one may come across, too. Like why did the Vikings leave cairns in Sweden, for another example. Or what did the land look like, then, whenever then was? Or why are there rock piles near Barnesville, Georgia in forested land these days? Or why is there a rock wall going up a ravine in Virginia in now forested land? Or where did the big erosion ditches one finds in many places come from? Or why is the crystal clear stream coming out of the jungle in the Zambales in the Philippines so full of exotic viruses. I could go on. While it is fun to speculate, I also assume our ancestors were not "perfect angels" during their time on the earth.
The intent is just to do some homework about water sources ahead of time if you can. How to collect, clean, store, and protect water are other subjects all together.
And anytime is a good time to start. Especially this idea applies during the cold season when the leaves are down and the visibility is better than the warm season when many leaves are up, and the understory is often full.